Pet of the Day

July 22, 2002

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Charlie, the Pet of the Day
Name: Charlie
Age: Thirteen months old
Gender: Male
Kind: Cinnamon pearl pied cockatiel
Home: Methuen, Massachusetts, USA
   We got Charlie last summer, when he was just a baby, from a wonderful breeder named Ken Houle in Nashua, NH. Ken takes such good care of his chicks that Charlie is the sweetest, tamest cockatiel anyone could ever want.

    Charlie is a sweet but spoiled little bird. We keep his wings clipped, so whenever we're home, he gets to stay outside of his cage, because he likes being out. In fact, I don't recall a single time when he's seemed to prefer being inside his cage. Therefore, my husband says he's a "magic bird": Open the cage door just a little, and he's out as quickly as can be, like a tiny feathered escape artist. It's impossible to open the door to change the seed or water without Charlie being out in a split second! Charlie is perfectly comfortable with people. He's so soft and snuggly that we often call him "Charlie Bear," and my mom wrote a song about him called "Puff Ball Charlie." (It's really cute.) Charlie likes to sit on my shoulder, lap or arm when I'm on the computer or reading a book, softly grinding his beak in utter cockatiel contentment. And he loves walking around the house with us: At the sink, he'll walk down my arm to get a drink straight out of the faucet, and I taught him to hop up the stairs while I'm walking up them. (That's really cute, too.)

    Sometimes, Charlie will play with my hair elastics, and they'll flip over his head and up sitting loosely around his neck, like a necklace. He seems to like them there: He gets all hissy when I try to take them off. I keep telling him, birds don't need necklaces, and besides, they're my hair elastics! But he never listens; I guess he figures that not only are his things his, but what's mine is his, too. That's just the way it is with birds. Charlie loves to snuggle up and be petted, closing his eyes and turning his head every which way, and lifting his head for me to scratch under his chin. Although he's affectionate, Charlie rarely gives us kisses. Once, though, he started nibbling at my lips very gently, in what I thought was a kiss. But the next thing I knew, he started to gently tug at my mouth, as though he wanted me to open it. So I did, and to my surprise, he stuck his whole head in and just left it there until I recovered from my shock and pulled him out! It was both funny and weird, and I know he'd do it again if I'd let him. My friends say that would make a great circus act... just what I need! :-P

    The funny thing about Charlie is that as brave as he is with us, he's terrified of non-humans, especially parakeets. I think this is because my budgie, Cadie, runs roughshod over him, chasing him out of his own cage and clucking at him whenever she can. (She's a little territorial, since she lived with us first.) But even though he's twice her size, Charlie scurries away whenever she comes near him. And he runs away from my mom's budgie, too, even though Whisper is only trying to make friends! Poor scared baby.

    How much of a chicken is Charlie? Well, just yesterday, I saw an ant on the floor near him, and noticed that he was watching the ant carefully. I wondered what he would do -- eat it? step on it? ignore it? The answer: None of the above! As soon as the ant came close to him, Charlie ran away as quickly as he could. He's such a funny baby! But we love him very much, and are so happy he's our pet. Hooray for Charlie Bear!

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